Thursday, October 29, 2009

God got rid of all evil today, so I'm no longer available to write this post.

One of the claims I see about why God doesn't just eradicate all evil this very second is that if God did do that, He'd have to wipe out all of humanity, as we all have evil tendencies.

But if God can only eliminate evil by destroying people, then how can anyone get to heaven? The whole premise behind the salvation and sanctification is that one is slowly changed to be like Jesus, and once one dies and gets to heaven, you are back to your original, pure, sinless state. And thus, no longer have an ounce of evil.

So if God is able to eradicate the evil in a person without destroying them, why can't He do the same to everyone? Or is this tied to He can only eradicate evil is someone has made the choice to repent and follow God?

To say that God can't destroy evil without destroying us comes across as saying that evil is an inherent part of our nature, something we were intended to have from the beginning. But the whole idea behind the Fall is that humanity was distorted from its original purpose -- and thus, evil isn't supposed to be an inherent part of anyone's character.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Punch me in the face: it's only what I deserve.

I was perusing some blogs tonight, and came across describing a situation. The blogger had ventured to a Christian blog that had some rude Christians. The Christian commentator called them on it and said that they were supposed to represent Christ to the world, and since Christ treated the rude Christians in a way they did not deserve (kindness, mercy, and compassion and so forth), then the least the rude Christians could do is treat others in a kind fashion.

I've always looked at the idea of representing Christ as following the Golden Rule, loving one's neighbor, not responding in the "eye for an eye" fashion, and basically being a really good person. But when a Christian is called to represent Christ, does that mean that a Christian is called to treat a non-Christian in a fashion that s/he doesn't deserve?

I'm not talking about the clear-cut cases of not retaliating if someone hits you, or steals from you, or is just an overall dirtbag towards you. I'm talking about a situation where you see a stranger in the street struggling to load packages into a car, and the Christian comes over to help. That is a method of representing Christ, and yet the loving behavior is in fact something the stranger doesn't deserve.

Or if a Christian is polite to a stranger in the street -- just a smile or a pleasant greeting -- and acting as a representative of Christ. Yet if Christ treats us as we don't deserve, then don't the strangers on the street deserve nothing less than to be punched in the face?

Or if representatives of Christ comfort parents grieving for a child. Or offer food to a starving person, or shelter to the homeless. If you are representing someone who in fact treated people in a fashion they did not deserve, then isn't there an implication that the Christians are saying that the grieving parents, the strangers, the homeless don't deserve the kind or polite treatment?

The thing is, I don't think a majority of Christians -- regardless of where they fall on the conservative or liberal scale -- would say that most strangers deserve to be punched in the face. Or that the homeless deserve to have no shelter or that those who have no food deserve to starve. They do in fact deserve kind treatment.

Yet their very theology, the very person they claim to represent, says something different.

Edit: I've received a few comments indicating that my post wasn't precisely clear -- which I'm grateful for, because I was still working through why this whole thing bothered me when I wrote this.

It was mentioned that Christians would say they are called to express the love of Jesus to people, and be his hands and feet. Or that the Bible didn't really call out the behavior I listed in the post.

And I think my discomfort can be summed up like so: rude Christian was chastised by moderator Christian for his rude behavior. This chastisement wasn't in the form of you are supposed to love your enemies, or to be the hands and feet of Jesus. The chastisement was in form of telling the rude Christian that you were treated by Christ as you don't deserve. Why was that connected with an admonishment to be polite? Why was that tied to the idea of representing Christ to the world? The implication I was seeing is that being polite to non-Christians was something they didn't deserve. Or just being polite to anyone. And since the representative of Christ is tied to all areas, like helping the unfortunate, does that mean that the unfortunate don't deserve help at all?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Everytime I download a tv show, I commit adultery on Comcast.

I got into a discussion today about when Jesus permits divorce. My friend is conservative protestant, and so I pointed out that Jesus really only permits the man to divorce when the wife was unfaithful. She said both abuse and adultery were acceptable reasons.

I asked about the abuse, as I couldn't recall any particular verses speaking to that. She said that it was explained as abuse was a form of adultery, in that the husband (or wife) was cheating on the covenant of marriage and the promises s/he made, and thus divorce was acceptable.

We moved on to a new topic as I pondered this. I then asked her about a situation where the husband is emotionally distant: he works all the time, does very little with the wife, doesn't listen to her. Isn't that also a form of adultery, based on her definition? And based on her definition, couldn't divorce then be justified in a lot of cases?

I remember that portion of the conversation concluded with how emotional situations were complicated. But in my mind -- and I didn't say this because it would've opened up a *huge* can of worms -- it sounds like a stretch. We have a clear-cut example of where Jesus says that someone can divorce, and it's not abuse. It's adultery. Not only that, but it's adultery as understood in the basic form: sexual unfaithfulness to the married partner.

And suddenly this gets stretched to include abuse as well? It adultery does include abuse, then why say there are two situations where divorce is okay? There's really only one situation, and that's adultery, only adultery means unfaithfulness to wedding promises. It sounds more like conservative Christians understand that they'd get a huge amount of flack for saying that someone would have to stay with an abusive partner, and so came up with a convoluted reason as to why abuse is an acceptable reason for divorce.

Now, to be fair, there could be a Biblical verse about abuse that's as direct as the adultery ones. But she didn't bring one up, and I can't think of one.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

May God use the bullet in your heart to save you.

I recently proof-read something for a friend, and found a particular instance that I feel is common in some evangelical circles. Unsaved Person A ends up in a bad situation. Saved Person B, or several Saved People, pray for Unsaved A. They not only pray that Unsaved Person A will be delivered from this bad situation, but that God will use the bad situation to show Unsaved Person A the Truth, and thus person A will be saved.

That type of behavior does not sit well with me at all. I know that the evangelical means well, but it's exploitative behavior. One person's tragedy should not become the evangelical's opportunity to try and work something extra in. The tragedy should be allowed to stand on its own. If person A needs someone to listen, then s/he should be listened to, no strings attached. If Person A needs a specific form of help, then that help should be given, no strings attached.

And yet, if a prayer is uttered that the situation is used to achieve a certain outcome, then there are a lot of strings attached.

I find myself right not unwilling to share a lot of personal news with evangelical friends, for this very reason. I don't feel anymore that they'll just listen and sympathize, if I'm struggling with something. Rather, I feel that the struggle will turn into a tool they use in a prayer to God for God to use that situation to save me. It's like whatever happens in my life is just used by them, for something else. My life will turn into some sort of project, with them trying to build a particular outcome.

Any tragedies, or even any joyful events, in my life are not their opportunities.